The problem of urban youths being exposed to the streets and getting in trouble has no one cause or origin. Therefore, any solution must represent a holistic approach that regulates all these factors at once.
Everyone has a stake in helping troublesome youths turn a corner and become productive members of society. When I take a personal look back at the influences that helped me avoid the pitfalls experienced by others with similar backgrounds, I cannot single out one factor, but several important ones:
1. Guardian. The living conditions of my early childhood for me and my siblings were not adequate; therefore, I was not raised by my parents but by my grandmother, who was adamant about the importance of education and reading. If the parents are absent, the guardian must take over, combating the influential effects of television, the Internet and other youth. My grandmother was the primary voice for me in avoiding these pitfalls.
2. Family. Along with the guardian, the family must take a vested interest in the development of their children's social behavior. My family, including aunts, uncles and other immediate family members, facilitated the secondary voice that supplemented my grandmother's influence.
3. Community. A child learns in school and in the community. Therefore, both aspects must be cornerstones in their development. I often found encouragement in my community, and I probably would not have had the same success without individuals, including teachers and other community members, making an impact in my life.
4. Society. Society as whole has placed a great emphasis on entertainment and luxury; however, to reverse the course that has taken place in the inner city, education and moral values must be paramount in the foundation of media. Scholarships and grants made it possible for me to move on to higher education; moreover, the knowledge of scholarships provided me with motivation to pursue excellence.
5. Luck. I believe that I was very fortunate and blessed to avoid the traps that are typical of disadvantaged surroundings. Sometimes good fortune is necessary for any youth to rise from his or her surroundings.
Chad Jones, 26, graduated from Hernando High School, then earned a bachelor's degree from Washington University in St. Louis in 2006 and a master's last year from the University of Miami. A 2002 Barnes scholar, he is employed at Harvard Jolly Inc., where he is working to obtain a license in architecture.